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The Three Brothers
The Three Brothers Märchen

The Three Brothers - Fairy Tale by the Brothers Grimm

Reading time for children: 6 min

There was once a man who had three sons, and nothing else in the world but the house in which he lived. Now each of the sons wished to have the house after his father’s death; but the father loved them all alike, and did not know what to do. He did not wish to sell the house, because it had belonged to his forefathers, else he might have divided the money amongst them. At last a plan came into his head, and he said to his sons, „Go into the world, and try each of you to learn a trade, and, when you all come back, he who makes the best masterpiece shall have the house.“

The sons were well content with this, and the eldest determined to be a blacksmith, the second a barber, and the third a fencing-master. They fixed a time when they should all come home again, and then each went his way.

It chanced that they all found skilful masters, who taught them their trades well. The blacksmith had to shoe the King’s horses, and he thought to himself, „The house is mine, without doubt.“ The barber only shaved great people, and he too already looked upon the house as his own. The fencing-master got many a blow, but he only bit his lip, and let nothing vex him; „for,“ said he to himself, „If you are afraid of a blow, you’ll never win the house.“

When the appointed time had gone by, the three brothers came back home to their father; but they did not know how to find the best opportunity for showing their skill, so they sat down and consulted together. As they were sitting thus, all at once a hare came running across the field. „Ah, ha, just in time!“ said the barber. So he took his basin and soap, and lathered away until the hare came up. Then he soaped and shaved off the hare’s whiskers whilst he was running at the top of his speed, and did not even cut his skin or injure a hair on his body. „Well done!“ said the old man. „your brothers will have to exert themselves wonderfully, or the house will be yours.“

Soon after, up came a nobleman in his coach, dashing along at full speed. „Now you shall see what I can do, father,“ said the blacksmith. So away he ran after the coach, took all four shoes off the feet of one of the horses whilst he was galloping, and put him on four new shoes without stopping him. „You are a fine fellow, and as clever as your brother,“ said his father; „I do not know to which I ought to give the house.“

The three brothers Fairy TaleImage: Paul Hey (1867 – 1952)

Then the third son said, „Father, let me have my turn, if you please;“ and, as it was beginning to rain, he drew his sword, and flourished it backwards and forwards above his head so fast that not a drop fell upon him. It rained still harder and harder, till at last it came down in torrents; but he only flourished his sword faster and faster, and remained as dry as if he were sitting in a house. When his father saw this he was amazed, and said, „This is the master-piece, the house is yours!“

His brothers were satisfied with this, as was agreed beforehand; and, as they loved one another very much, they all three stayed together in the house, followed their trades, and, as they had learnt them so well and were so clever, they earned a great deal of money. Thus they lived together happily until they grew old; and at last, when one of them fell sick and died, the two others grieved so sorely about it that they also fell ill, and soon after died. And because they had been so clever, and had loved one another so much, they were all laid in the same grave.

The three brothers Fairy Tale
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Backgrounds to fairy tale „The three brothers“

„The Three Brothers“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm in their renowned anthology, „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“ (Children’s and Household Tales). Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were scholars and linguists who aimed to preserve German folklore by collecting stories passed down through generations in the oral tradition.

„The Three Brothers“ is a tale about three siblings, each with their own unique skill: one is a skilled thief, another a brilliant astronomer, and the third an exceptional archer. They set out on a journey to make a living using their talents and ultimately find themselves in a series of adventures where their unique abilities help them overcome various obstacles.

The story’s origins are uncertain, as the tale likely evolved over time through regional folklore and storytelling. The Brothers Grimm’s inclusion of „The Three Brothers“ in their collection has helped preserve the story and ensure that it continues to be shared and enjoyed by future generations.

The fairy tale explores themes of sibling bonds, individual talents, and the value of collaboration. It showcases how each brother’s unique skill contributes to the group’s overall success, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and the power of combining diverse abilities.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The three brothers“

„The Three Brothers“ can be interpreted in various ways, examining themes of family, individual talents, and collaboration. Here are some common interpretations of the fairy tale:

The power of collaboration: The story emphasizes the importance of teamwork and collaboration, as the three brothers use their unique skills to help each other overcome challenges. Each brother’s talent is essential to their collective success, suggesting that individuals are stronger when they work together and combine their abilities.

Valuing individual talents: The tale showcases how each brother has a distinct talent – thievery, astronomy, and archery – and highlights the importance of recognizing and valuing these individual strengths. This interpretation suggests that everyone has something unique to offer, and by embracing our talents, we can contribute to the success of the group.

Family bonds and loyalty: The story centers around the strong bond between the three brothers, who support and rely on one another throughout their journey. This interpretation emphasizes the significance of family ties and the value of loyalty and commitment to loved ones.

Resourcefulness and adaptability: The brothers demonstrate resourcefulness and adaptability by using their skills in various situations they encounter. This interpretation highlights the importance of being adaptable and finding creative solutions to problems.

Personal growth and self-discovery: As the brothers embark on their journey and face challenges, they also grow and learn more about themselves and their abilities. This interpretation suggests that personal growth and self-discovery are important aspects of life and that stepping out of one’s comfort zone can lead to valuable experiences and lessons.

These interpretations of „The Three Brothers“ showcase the enduring power of fairy tales to explore themes of family, personal growth, and collaboration while providing engaging and thought-provoking stories.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The three brothers“

„The Three Brothers“ is not as well-known or widely adapted as some other Brothers Grimm fairy tales. However, it has still inspired various adaptations and reinterpretations in different media forms. Some examples include:

Literature: Authors have reimagined the story in their own words, modifying or expanding upon the original tale to create new versions for modern audiences. For instance, „The Three Brothers“ has been included in anthologies of rewritten or adapted fairy tales that present the story in a fresh, contemporary light.

Theater: The story has been adapted into stage productions, such as children’s theater or puppet shows, offering audiences a chance to experience the tale in a live performance setting. These adaptations may involve changes to the plot, characters, or dialogue, allowing theater artists to explore the themes and messages of the story in new ways.

Art: The fairy tale has inspired visual artists to create illustrations, paintings, or sculptures that depict scenes or characters from the story. Artists like Arthur Rackham, Walter Crane, and others have included illustrations of „The Three Brothers“ in their collections of Grimm’s Fairy Tales, bringing the story to life through their unique artistic styles.

Film and Television: While there are no major film or television adaptations specifically dedicated to „The Three Brothers,“ elements of the story, such as the importance of collaboration and valuing individual talents, have been incorporated into various movies and TV shows, often as part of an anthology series or as a subplot within a larger narrative.

These adaptations of „The Three Brothers“ showcase the enduring appeal of fairy tales and their ability to inspire creative reinterpretations across different mediums.

Adaptions of the fairy tale „The three brothers“

„The Three Brothers“ is a classic fairy tale that has been adapted and retold in various forms of media, including books, films, and television shows. Here are some notable adaptations of the story:

„The Three Brothers“ film adaptation: In 2011, the story was adapted into a short animated film as part of the „Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1“ movie. The film features three wizard brothers instead of carpenter, miller, and simpleton, and they come across the Deathly Hallows instead of the magical goose.

„The Tale of the Three Brothers“ in Harry Potter: In the Harry Potter book series, J.K. Rowling created her version of the story called „The Tale of the Three Brothers,“ which features three wizard brothers who outwit Death and receive magical objects as a reward.

„The Three Feathers“ by The Brothers Grimm: The Brothers Grimm also collected another fairy tale called „The Three Feathers,“ which has a similar plot to „The Three Brothers.“ In this story, three princes compete to win the kingdom by completing a series of tasks set by their father, the king.

„The Three Billy Goats Gruff“: This is another fairy tale that features three brothers. In this story, the three billy goats have to cross a bridge guarded by a troll, and they use their wits to outsmart the troll.

„The Three Little Pigs“: This is another classic fairy tale that features three brothers. In this story, the three little pigs build houses out of different materials to protect themselves from the big bad wolf.

Overall, „The Three Brothers“ has inspired several adaptations and variations over the years, and its enduring popularity is a testament to the power and appeal of this classic fairy tale.

Summary of the plot

„The Three Brothers“ is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about three siblings, each with a unique skill. The first brother is a skilled thief, the second brother is a brilliant astronomer, and the third brother is an exceptional archer. The brothers set out on a journey to make a living using their individual talents.

During their travels, they come across a castle where the princess is in distress. To win her hand in marriage and half of the kingdom, the brothers must rescue her from the clutches of a dragon. The brothers decide to work together, combining their talents to save the princess and claim their reward.

The thief brother steals a magical sword that can slay the dragon, while the astronomer brother uses his knowledge of the stars to determine the best time to strike. Meanwhile, the archer brother shoots the dragon’s eyes out, blinding the beast and giving them an advantage.

Thanks to their teamwork and the combination of their unique skills, the brothers successfully defeat the dragon and rescue the princess. As a reward, they divide the kingdom among themselves and marry the princess to form a single royal family.

„The Three Brothers“ is a story that highlights the importance of collaboration, valuing individual talents, and the strength of family bonds. The tale serves as a reminder that working together and supporting one another can lead to success and happiness.


Backgrounds to fairy tale „The three brothers“

„The Three Brothers“ is a German fairy tale collected by the Brothers Grimm, who were Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The story is part of their famous compilation, „Kinder- und Hausmärchen“ („Children’s and Household Tales“), which was first published in 1812. The Brothers Grimm were German academics, linguists, cultural researchers, and authors who collected and published folktales as part of their work on Germanic culture and folklore. Their collection of stories includes well-known tales such as „Cinderella,“ „Hansel and Gretel,“ „Rapunzel,“ and „Snow White.“

The Brothers Grimm aimed to preserve the cultural heritage of these stories, which were passed down through generations via oral tradition. Their collection quickly gained popularity and has since become a significant influence on Western culture and literature, inspiring countless adaptations, retellings, and reinterpretations. „The Three Brothers,“ while not as well-known as some of the other tales in the collection, remains an enduring story that reflects the values and themes prevalent in many Grimm fairy tales, such as the importance of family, hard work, and unity.

Interpretations to fairy tale „The three brothers“

„The Three Brothers“ offers several interpretations and themes that can be taken from the story:

The importance of family: The brothers‘ love for one another and their decision to live together after winning the house demonstrates the value of family ties and support. Even when competing against one another, they remain close and continue to care for each other until their deaths.

The value of hard work and perseverance: Each brother learns a trade and works diligently to master it. Their dedication and determination result in impressive skills that not only earn them a living but also help them compete for the house. This theme highlights the importance of commitment and practice in achieving success.

The uniqueness of individual talents: Each brother has a distinct skill that he excels in, and their father values each of their abilities. This theme underscores the significance of recognizing and nurturing individual talents rather than comparing or ranking them against one another.

The power of unity and collaboration: Though the brothers compete for the house, they ultimately decide to live and work together. They pool their skills and resources, leading to a prosperous and happy life. This theme emphasizes the importance of unity and collaboration over individual competition.

The ephemeral nature of life: Despite their skills, success, and love for one another, the brothers eventually grow old and pass away. This theme serves as a reminder that life is fleeting and that people should cherish the time they have with their loved ones.

In summary, „The Three Brothers“ is a tale that highlights the importance of family bonds, hard work, individual talents, unity, and the temporary nature of life.

Summary of the plot

„The Three Brothers“ is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a man with three sons who must decide which of them will inherit the family home. Unable to choose, the father sends his sons into the world to learn trades, promising the house to the one who can create the best masterpiece.

The eldest son becomes a blacksmith, the second a barber, and the third a fencing-master. After a set period, the brothers return home to demonstrate their skills. The barber shaves a hare’s whiskers as it runs, without causing any harm. The blacksmith replaces the shoes of a galloping horse without stopping it. The fencing-master, however, outshines them both when he uses his sword to shield himself from torrential rain without getting wet. Impressed, the father awards the house to the fencing-master.

The brothers, who love each other dearly, decide to live together in the house. They work diligently at their respective trades, earning a comfortable living. As they age, they remain close until one brother falls ill and dies. Grieving, the other two brothers also fall ill and pass away shortly after. In recognition of their talent and love for one another, they are all buried in the same grave.

Informations for scientific analysis

Fairy tale statistics
NumberKHM 124
Aarne-Thompson-Uther-IndexATU Typ 654
TranslationsDE, EN, DA, ES, FR, PT, HU, IT, JA, NL, PL, RO, RU, TR, VI, ZH
Readability Index by Björnsson32.3
Flesch-Reading-Ease Index79.8
Flesch–Kincaid Grade-Level7.8
Gunning Fog Index10.5
Coleman–Liau Index7.6
SMOG Index8.4
Automated Readability Index8.7
Character Count3.439
Letter Count2.628
Sentence Count29
Word Count662
Average Words per Sentence22,83
Words with more than 6 letters63
Percentage of long words9.5%
Number of Syllables813
Average Syllables per Word1,23
Words with three Syllables23
Percentage Words with three Syllables3.5%
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